Hysteria

Clapping hands

Note – This is Blog No 501.  Worthy of applause? Now for tonight’s blog.

Tonight we went to the movies.  Yes again.  The choice of movies at our local bijoux theatre was good – The Wish, Your Sister’s Sister, On The Road and more, and we chose Hysteria.

It is described as a romp through London in the late 1800s when Hysteria was a catch-all phrase for many women’s problems.  Click here to see the trailer.

I thought it was all terribly ‘tongue in cheek’ until I looked up our good friends at Wikipedia.  Here we learn “hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is today no longer recognized by modern medical authorities as a medical disorder. Its diagnosis and treatment were routine for many hundreds of years in Western Europe.”

It appears that there really was a Dr (Joseph) Mortimer Granville who invented the electro-mechanical vibrator as a means to achieve this ‘paroxysm” in his female patients without his (the doctor) having to stand for up to an hour administering the ‘pelvic massage’.  There had been an earlier invention by an American physician,  a steam-powered vibrator called ‘The Manipulator’ .  Granville’s invention was rapidly followed by other contraptions none of which could be manipulated away from the doctor’s surgery.

Sears catalogue advertising vibrator

A 1918 Sears, Roebuck and Co. ad with several models of vibrators. via Wikipedia

Then along came electricity giving the ability to use vibrators in one’s own home, then of course, came all sorts of battery operated toys including vibrators.  And if we are to believe all we are told millions of vibrators reside in homes around the world.  But no,  I won’t ask if you have one.

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14 responses to “Hysteria

  1. I went to: ‘They Did WHAT??!!!’ and found the caption ‘A doctor manipulated orgasm!’. What do you think would happen to a doctor who was trying to do something like this in our time? Is it really possible that not all that long ago women could be manipulated like this? I mean there are records about it; still it’s hard to believe from today’s point of view.
    Yes, dear Judith, your blogging is absolutely worthy of applause!
    I send you greetings from Berlin, Germany. my present holiday place. Uta

    • It is quite amazing that women were so easily manipulated. Of course, in the 1880s they were still regarded as second class citizens – no votes, almost their husbands, chattels. I hadn’t heard of this until I saw the movie – didn’t really know what we were going to see, but of course, I came home and started trawling through the internet.
      I hope you are enjoying your visit to Berlin. It’s one of the places I have always wanted to visit. My German friend used to teach English at the University there. Perhaps if I win the lottery this week.

  2. Congrats on 501 posts, Judith! I hope you celebrated this milestone.

  3. Congrats on 501! Interesting bit about Dr. Granville. Had he tried that today, he’d face lawsuits and possibly jail time.

  4. Christine in Los Angeles

    OMGosh — my first thought was that top vibrator looks just like my Mum’s old Electrolux vacuum cleaner .. multi-tasking ??
    And congratulations on number 501 — I’m looking forward to number 502.
    God bless, Christine

  5. I did know about this “hysteria” diagnosis. It’s funny and horrible at the same time. I would imagine women, once relieved of this hysteria, sought repeated treatment. 😉

    That Sears ad is a riot.

  6. Oh, Judith . . . Hysteria looks hysterical! Thanks for sharing the trailer with us. I wonder if the diagnosis of hysteria went into disfavor because vibrators came into favor? 😉

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